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The mini-Annals of Improbable Research ("mini-AIR")

March 2009, Issue number 2009-03. ISSN 1076-500X.

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A free online supplement to

the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

      This issue is at

      <http://www.improbable.com/airchives/miniair/2009/mini2009-03.htm>

      Archive at <http://improbable.com/airchives/miniair/>

Key words: improbable research, science humor, Ig Nobel, AIR, the

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2009-03-01 TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

2009-03-02 Imminent Events

2009-03-03 What's New in the Magazine: Bagels & Zombies

2009-03-04 Second Triple Oberdšrster

2009-03-05 Global Warming Cheat Sheet, and the F/R Ration

2009-03-06 Ig Nobel UK Tour, March 7-12

2009-03-07 Withering Bad Breath Poets

2009-03-08 Doubly-Labeled Water Competition

2009-03-09 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Arm Crossing and Persistence

2009-03-10 OTHER RECENT IMPROBABILITIES: Random, Crud, Hair

2009-03-11 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Doll Phobia, Economics & Ignorance

2009-03-12 Improbable Research Events

2009-03-13 -- How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

2009-03-14 -- Our Address (*)

2009-03-15 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

2009-03-16 -- How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

 

      Items marked (*) are reprinted in every issue.

 

      mini-AIR is

      but a wee monthly *supplement*

      to the bi-monthly magazine Annals of Improbable Research

 

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2009-03-02 Imminent Events

 

Mar 6-15, UK - Oxford, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Bristol, London

      Details: <http://tinyurl.com/k87xs>

 

Mar 25-26, SOUTH AFRICA

 

Apr 21-25, DENMARK

 

Full schedule & details at <http://tinyurl.com/k87xs>

 

 

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2009-03-03 What's New in the Magazine: Bagels & Zombies

 

The special Ig Nobel issue (vol. 15, no. 1) of the Annals of

Improbable Research is the special Mummies, Zombies and Bagels

issue.

 

Download a free low-res PDF (which we will post any day now), or

subscribe to the traditional comfy paper edition (which has just

been mailed out from the printers), or get a spiffy hi-res PDF.

 

Many back issues are online at

<http://www.improbable.com/magazine/>

 

 

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2009-03-04 Second Triple Oberdšrster

 

Last month's triple-Oberdšrster citation (part of our

Multiplicity of Monikers collection) is not unique. Investigator

Charlene Biswas found another, which she says is her favorite of

the two multi-Oberdšrster citations:

 

"Concepts of Nanoparticle Dose Metric and Response Metric,"

Gu_nter Oberdšrster, Eva Oberdšrster, and Jan Oberdšrster,

Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 115, no. 6, June 2007, p.

A290. <http://tinyurl.com/dkxr9n> This triple-Oberdšrster study

takes issue with a non-Oberdšrster study that takes issue with

the content of the first triple-Oberdšrster study.

 

Oberdšrster scholars already know that the three Oberdšrsters are

pictured and interviewed at <http://tinyurl.com/dezd7r>

 

 

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2009-03-05 Global Warming Nutshell Sheet, and the F/R Ration

 

Investigator Grover Winthrop composed a handy "in-a-nutshell

study sheet" for scientists who are confused by the great debate

about global warming. Winthrop writes: "People tell me there's a

debate about global warming. Yet these days I don't meet any any

competent scientists who see it as a debate. So here — for my

colleagues — is a guide to what people mean when they tell us

there is a debate:

 

1. Global warming is not happening; and

2. It causes no problems; and

3. It's not caused by human engineering; and

4. Whatever problems it causes are easily solved by engineering.

 

"What we are seeing here," enthuses Winthrop, "is the birth of

some new kind of logic. It's fascinating."

 

Investigator Daniele Ramos, too, has been fascinated by reports

that there is a debate. She alerts us to a simple tool she uses

to analyze the debaters' arguments. Ramos writes:

 

"The arguments I've heard and read (saying there's no global

warming problem) nearly always have a very low F/R ratio. The F/R

ratio — the 'Facts-to-Rage ratio' — was invented (I think) by the

journalist Josh Marshall. As soon as I find myself in a

discussion with someone whose argument has a very low F/R ratio,

I relax and simply enjoy the spectacle. It does wonders for my

stress level."

 

 

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2009-03-06 Ig Nobel UK Tour, March 7-12

 

The seventh Ig Nobel Tour of the UK (for National Science and

Engineering Week) will have five shows in as many cities. All

events are free. It's advisable to reserve tickets in advance, as

the venues generally fill to capacity (and would exceed it, but

for the UK's famous, fearsome Health & Safety regulations). The

London show, the biggest of the bunch, is already nearly booked

full.

 

Sixteen individuals and teams, many of them Ig Nobel winners,

will explain briefly what they did and why they did it. Each show

will have a unique subset of those sixteen. The show in Newcastle

will also feature a performance of the mini-opera Atom & Eve.

 

Many of the speakers are new to the tour (with topics such as:

comparative dog and cat flea jumping ability; organizational

bastards; measuring hot potato mouth; UK/US necrophilia

forensics; etc.).

 

Some are returning after previous appearances, now armed with

fresh new topics (buying plutonium; left/right medical mishaps;

etc.).

 

Details (and some downloadable posters) are at:

<http://tinyurl.com/k87xs >

 

 

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2009-03-07 Withering Bad Breath Poets

 

The judges have chosen a winner in the Whither Withering Bad

Breath Competition, which asked for a limerick to honor the study

"Time Profile of Putrescine, Cadaverine, Indole and Skatole in

Human Saliva" <http://tinyurl.com/d2aqfz>.

 

The winner is INVESTIGATOR A.S. KASWELL, who wrote:

 

      Cadaverine has so few charms

      And Putrescine raises alarms.

      We make them at night,

      Say Cooke, Leeves and White —

      Our mouths become chemical farms.

 

Here's the offering from LIMERICK LAUREATE MARTIN EIGER:

 

      Herein, the three authors explore

      Some noxious amines, to wit, four.

      Of one, not a bit

      Is found in your spit.

      Of others, they found slightly more.

 

 

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2009-03-08 Doubly-Labeled Water Competition

 

Doubly labeled water is the subject of this month's limerick

competition. To enter, compose an original limerick that

illuminates the nature of this report:

 

      Doubly Labelled Water: Theory and Practice,

      John R. Speakman, Springer (publisher), 1997.

      ISBN 0412637804. <http://tinyurl.com/ak9r28>

 

RULES: Please make sure that: (1) your rhymes actually do; and

(2) your poem is in classic, trills-off-the-tongue limerick form.

 

PRIZE: The winning poet will receive (if we manage to send it to

the correct address) a free, possibly moist, high-res PDF issue

of the Annals of Improbable Research. Send entries (one entry per

entrant) to:

 

      DOUBLY LABELED WATER LIMERICK COMPETITION

      c/o <marca AT chem2.harvard.edu>

 

 

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2009-03-09 RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Arm Crossing and Persistence

 

This month's specially selected study describes arm crossing and

persistence. The paper is:

 

"The Effect of Arm Crossing on Persistence and Performance,"

Ron Friedman and Andrew J. Elliot, European Journal of Social

Psychology, vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 449-61.

<http://tinyurl.com/ae7b4e> The authors, at the University of

Rochester, report:

 

"Experiment 1 found that inducing participants to cross their

arms led to greater persistence on an unsolvable anagram.

Experiment 2 revealed that arm crossing led to better performance

on solvable anagrams, and that this effect was mediated by

greater persistence."

 

 

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2009-03-10 OTHER RECENT IMPROBABILITIES: Random, Crud, Hair

 

Improbable TV Collections

      <http://improbable.com/tv/>

Collection #116 swoops through the classic adventure book "One

Million Random Digits".

 

Blog Items:

      <http://improbable.com/>

 

<> Measurement: Who's the Most Famous of Them All?

<> Authors as words: Else Then

<> All hail Voldemutt, creator of vapid crud

<> All machines are not alike

<> Psychiatrists devise a new sanity test

 

And many more...

 

Newspaper Columns:

      <http://tinyurl.com/6o348d>

<> The Attitudes To Chocolate Questionnaire

<> 101 uses for the sacred foreskin

<> Celebrity, academia's new growth industry

 

New Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists Members:

      <http://tinyurl.com/25lmfb>

<> Helena Koltai

<> Ryan Phillips

<> Jen St. Onge

<> Kevin Payne,

 

 

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2009-03-11 MAY WE RECOMMEND: Doll Phobia, Economics & Ignorance

 

PSEUDOSEIZURES ASSOCIATED WITH DOLL PHOBIA

"Pseudoseizures Associated With Doll Phobia," S.P. Chand, and

K.A. Khalili, International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine,

vol. 30, no. 1, 2000, pp. 93-96. <http://tinyurl.com/b3wbv4>

 

INFLUENCE THROUGH IGNORANCE

"Influence Through Ignorance," Isabelle Brocas and Juan D.

Carrillo, RAND Journal of Economics, vol. 38, no. 4, Winter 2007,

pp. 931-47. Doi:10.1111/j.0741-6261.2007.00119.x. (Thanks to

Kristine Danowski for bringing this to our attention.) The

authors are at University of Southern California.

<http://www-rcf.usc.edu/~juandc/PDFpapers/wp-influ.pdf>

 

 

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2009-03-12 Improbable Research Events

 

For details and additional events, see

<http://improbable.com/improbable-research-shows/complete-schedule>

 

Ig Nobel Tour of the UK                      — Mar 7-12, 2009

 

SciFest Africa, Grahamstown, South Africa     — Mar 25-26, 2009

 

Ig Nobel Tour of Denmark              — Apr 21-25, 2009

 

Cambridge (MA) Science Festival            — May 2, 2009

 

CSE, Pittsburgh, PA                     — May 4, 2009

 

Carnegie Mellon U, Pittsburgh              — May 6, 2009

 

 

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2009-03-13 -- How to Subscribe to AIR (*)

 

The Annals of Improbable Research is a 6-issues-per-year

magazine. (It's bigger and better than the little bits of

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online version is at <http://www.improbable.com/magazine/>.

 

To subscribe to the paper-and-ink version, go to

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2009-03-14 -- Our Address (*)

 

Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

PO Box 380853, Cambridge, MA 02238 USA

617-491-4437 FAX:617-661-0927

 

EDITORIAL: marca AT chem2.harvard.edu

SUBSCRIPTIONS: subscriptions AT improbable.com

WEB SITE: <http://www.improbable.com>

 

 

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2009-03-15 -- Please Forward/Post This Issue! (*)

 

Please distribute copies of mini-AIR (or excerpts!) wherever

appropriate. The only limitations are: A) Please indicate that

the material comes from mini-AIR. B) You may NOT distribute mini-

AIR for commercial purposes.

 

      ------------- mini-AIRheads -------------

EDITOR: Marc Abrahams

MINI-PROOFREADER AND PICKER OF NITS (before we introduce the last

few at the last moment): Wendy Mattson

COMMUTATIVE EDITOR: Stanley Eigen

ASSOCIATIVE EDITOR: Mark Dionne

PSYCHOLOGY EDITOR: Robin Abrahams

CO-CONSPIRATORS: Alice Shirrell Kaswell, Gary Dryfoos, Ernest

Ersatz, S. Drew

MAITRE DE COMPUTATION: Jerry Lotto

AUTHORITY FIGURES: Nobel Laureates Dudley Herschbach, Sheldon

Glashow, William Lipscomb, Richard Roberts

 

(c) copyright 2009, Annals of Improbable Research

 

 

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2009-03-16 -- How to Receive mini-AIR, etc. (*)

 

What you are reading right now is mini-AIR. Mini-AIR is a (free!)

tiny monthly *supplement* to the bi-monthly print magazine.

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